Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
"Our movement will continue"

(Excerpts from an interview with Bishnu Lamsal, member secretary, United Central Struggle Committee [of hotel employees])

Q It is said your demands are against the law?

A The Labour Act, 2048, states that within 21 days of a petition being filed, a ruling must be given. We presented our demands to the government on 6 September and it was to provide a ruling within 21 days but did not. The laws allow for the ruling to be postponed for another 21 days, and this again can be extended by another 15 days. Nothing happened all along. The employees can go on a strike after 66 days. We only followed the above-mentioned Act.

Q After the talks with the government, you have ended your agitation, why?

A We have not stopped our agitation. We have only postponed it.

Q Your agitation has taken a long time. You are prolonging it further. Why?

A The concerned authorities should act. The tourism industry is going to be affected. We know that. We, too, don't want to go in for an agitation, but despite all this, the authorities are not acting in a responsible manner. The government had asked for some time. They asked us to give them a few days more. "If you could wait for 20 years then why can't you wait for another 4 or 5 days," was what the government told us. But that is not why we have stopped our agitation. Other programmes that are part of the protest are being carried out. We have postponed our strike and black armbands day. We have not run away from our movement.

Q Who should fulfil your demands: the hotels or the government?

A Both have agreed to implement it many times. At the time of collective bargaining, which takes place every two years, the hotels had stated that if the government gives them permission then they would implement it. But the government has to make the appropriate laws. The owner does not have to pay, it is the tourist who is going to pay and this is the system the world over. The government and HAN [Hotel Association of Nepal] have both agreed many times to enforce this, but now except for HAN everyone is agreeable to it. That is because most hotels maintain two accounts and if they agree to what we want they will be exposed. It is because of this that HAN does not want to meet our demand.

Q Is your demand limited to the one for the ten percent service charge, or do you have others?

A That is our only demand, and that too can be negotiated upon

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)